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Peterborough Utd 2 Harriers 3    FA Cup 3rd rd replay

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Date: 14-01-14gif Venue: London Roadgif att: 3483gif away fans: 660
Harriers power past Posh

gif Report by Philip Lench
The Harriers continued their phenomenal run in this seasons FA Cup tonight by storming to a 3-2 win at Peterborough after going a goal behind in a routine first half with both sides shy to have a meaningful shot on goal.  In the second half it was two different sides that came out and, luckily for the mass of Harriers followers at London Road it was the Men in Red that were more hungry for the win and so rightfully came out on top to earn themselves a trip to Premier side Sunderland in the next round of the much maligned trophy.

On a chilly East Anglian night the Harriers fans were filling out our portion of the antique stand from early doors while in the remainder of the ground the home fans were filing in slowly but not in great numbers and by the time kick off arrived it looked like being a very sparse and quiet crowd.  Thankfully the estimated eight hundred Harriers fans made up for their silence and sang out for the entire game.

With an unchanged line up from last Saturdays 3-0 win at home to Salisbury City the only changes came on the bench due to the extra numbers needed there.  Josh Riis and Dior Angus were added but not eventually needed.  It was also, sadly, the last time that we would see Joe Lolley in a Harriers shirt and at the end of the game he threw his shirt into the crowd as a sign of goodbye before signing for Huddersfield later on today.

The game got underway with the Harriers being forced onto the back foot by a Peterborough side that would feel that they should not have needed a replay in the first place and they wanted to get this formality out of the way as soon as possible.  The only problem was the poor pitch, especially around the centre circle, not being conducive to passing football although they did ping it round nicely enough without really threatening Danny Lewis' goal.

As for ourselves we seemed nervous and had problems playing the un-familiar pitch and also a lack of sharpness ceding the possession to the Posh continually.  For us Jack Byrne, Kyle Storer and Joe Lolley were visibly struggling with gaining a foothold and should really have come out in football boots and not slippers.  Only Lee Fowler seemed to be keeping his poise and his distribution from midfield was pleasing to see and something to build on.

Just prior to the opening goal the Reds began to put things together with a shot from Lolley that Rob Olejnik saved easily so it came as something of a stunner when it happened.  Due to standing off the opposition too much Danny Kearns managed to get the ball to the goal line un-heeded and then slip back to send over a far post cross at a narrow angle.  Lewis seemed to tip the ball up but it came straight back down and hit the upright to bounce back out to the waiting Danny Rowe to bundle the ball over the line from only inches out.  The ball then travelled along the line to the other side of the goal but due to the silence of the home fans, and their own players, in a lack of celebration many of the Harriers fans thought that maybe it wasn't actually a goal.

We should have pulled that goal back some ten minutes later when Michael Gash played Amari Morgan-Smith in but, with AMS able to choose his spot, he opted to fire it straight at the keeper instead.  With the time running down until the break the busy Shaun Jeffers sent a simple shot well wide as Danny Lewis shepherd it out.
  HT: 1 - 0
The second half started in a whirlwind from the Harriers with half the team obviously wearing more appropriate footwear.  As we saw against Salisbury the policy from the Steve Burr era of starting the game at 110% and then tiring in the second half has now been reversed under Andy Thorn.  That was the case again tonight and although it's worrying for the fans to see a relaxed, containing, first half it's a pleasure to see them go for it in the second half and break a side down with Jack Russell like tactics.

It took just three minutes in for Michael Gash to score against his hometown team and silence the silent Posh crowd further.

Danny Jackman won the ball out wide and, gaining a couple of yards, whipped over a fine cross near to the far post and onto the waiting head of the Gashman.  His perfectly met, bullet header flashed into the net and the section of the stand looking over the goal erupted into celebration.

That celebration was a mere shadow of what was to come just minutes later when Jack Byrne put the Harriers into an unexpected lead and set the path for our trip to Sunderland.  Joe Lolley, now finding his feet and also a way to avoid the constant marking, burst down the pitch, jinked a few times and just as it looked as though he was setting himself up he spotted Jack unmarked and played the ball to him instead.  Jack needed no second invite, tapped it on, and screwed the ball into the back of the net.

The Harriers fans were in wonderland.

Boro seemed to sense that they were about to exit the cup to a minnow, non league team and began to play to their own higher standards.  The manager Darren Ferguson had already made all the changes allowed to his side in an effort to get his side back in the game and again they began to pass the ball around smoothly without really putting the frighteners on us.  Danny's goal was being protected well.

He saved a routine stop from Jack Payne in the seventieth minute and just after that a header from Jeffers that didn't worry him too much either but eventually some poor thinking from Lee Vaughan led to him bringing Britt Assombalonga down in the area with the big striker not really heading for goal.  The number nine opted to take it himself and converted the ball easily beyond the dive of Lewis.

Now it was two goals apiece the fans first thoughts turned to the possibility of extra time and God forbid a penalty shootout that we just knew that we would fail miserably at but we didn't think, or wouldn't believe, that footballs hottest property, Joe Lolley, would break the Peterborough hearts and fill ours with untold joy.

With Boro trying to find a winning goal we broke from deep on the counter and the ball was played out wide to Lolley as he skipped past his tiring marker and advanced on goal towards the retreating defenders.  They tried to get a foot in but Joe was determined and jinked one way, recovered, jinked another and then with the tiniest of cracks visible he let loose a shot that left Olejnik scrabbling for mud.

Joe Lolley had sealed his whirlwind rise up the footballing ladder from a village side near Evesham to the heights of the Championship via an excursion to Aggborough and FA Cup dreams on the way.

Thank you Joe for helping us reach the Stadium of Light.  You will live in Harriers fans memories for a long, long time.
  FT: 2 - 3

 Goals for Peterborough: Rowe 26, Assombalonga 74 (pen)
 Goals for Harriers: Gash 48, Byrne 52, Lolley 76


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Peterborough Utd  goals   subs   cards      Harriers  goals   subs   cards 
Olejnik     Lewis  
Little     L Vaughan  
Kearns gif     Jackman  
Brisley     Storer
Knight-Percival   Demetriou  
Bostwick     Gowling  
Rowe gif gif     Byrne gif  
Payne     Fowler  
Assombalonga gif     Gash gif  
Anderson gif     Morgan-Smith gif
Jeffers     Lolley gif gif  
SUBS:         SUBS:      
Day     N Vaughan  
Ntlhe     Dunkley  
Swanson gif - 54     Malbon  
McCann gif - 54     Johnson gif - 57  
Newell gif - 38     Angus  
Ephraim     Dyer gif - 88  
Coulson     Riis  

REFEREE:
Mr A D'Urso
Essex




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